How to Renew Your DACA Status

How recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals can receive another two years of work permission in the U.S.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

If you received a work permit and temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, that grant was temporary. However, you might be able to renew it (in additional two-year increments) for as long as the DACA program remains in effect. This article will detail the steps required to renew your DACA status.

First, Make Sure You Still Fit the DACA Eligibility Criteria

The basic criteria for DACA eligibility are set forth in Who Qualifies for Deferred Action as an Immigrant Student or Graduate (DACA). In order to renew your status, you must continue to meet the criteria stated there.

There are additional criteria you'll need to meet for DACA renewal, including that you:

  • haven't left the U.S. without first obtaining permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in the form of what's called "Advance Parole." (See DACA Recipients: How to Apply for a Travel Document (Advance Parole).)
  • have continuously lived ("resided") in the U.S. since submitting your initial DACA application, and
  • haven't been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; and haven't done anything suggesting that you present a threat to U.S. national security or public safety (such as being a known member of a gang).

You should absolutely see an attorney if you have been convicted of any crime.

Also see an attorney if you no longer meet the educational requirements; for example, you failed to continue on your path to a GED. In such as case, you may no longer be DACA-eligible. Interestingly enough, USCIS doesn't actually require you to show that you're still in school or have otherwise met the educational criteria when renewing; but the agency does want to be told if you've failed to do so. And, if it spots a possible issue, it could ask for follow-up documentation.

If you got DACA and later turned 31 or older, you might be wondering whether you're eligible to renew. The answer is yes: you can renew as long as you were under 31 as of June 15, 2012 (that is, you were born after June 15, 1981)—which you had to be to get DACA in the first place.

Get the Timing of Your DACA Renewal Application Right

If you apply more than 150 days before your work permit (Employment Authorization Document or EAD) expires, USCIS will return and reject your application. But if you apply too close to your expiration date, your EAD could expire before you're approved, leading to possible loss of your job and definitely to your having "unlawful status" on your immigration record.

The agency recommends submitting your renewal application around 120 days before your EAD expiration date. The National Immigration Law Center provides a helpful calculator to figure this date out.

Forms to Fill Out for DACA Renewal

The correct forms to submit include USCIS Form I-821-D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (also used for initial applications) and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, accompanied by a worksheet called Form I-765WS. (Click the links to access free downloads of these forms on the USCIS website.)

On Form I-821D, be sure to check Box 2 in Part 1, which says "Renewal Request."

On Question 16, regarding "Race," you might notice that USCIS forgot to include an "other" box. You'll have to choose whichever box seems closest to your racial identity.

Additional instructions for filling out this form can be obtained on the Form I-821-D page of the USCIS website.

Supporting Documents to Submit With Your DACA Renewal Application

Applying to renew DACA requires far fewer supporting documents than for an original application. You are presumed to still meet many of the original criteria.

You will, however, need to provide the following for DACA renewal relating to any changes in your situation that might make you ineligible:

  • new documents indicating that you are in or have received any sort of decision on removal (deportation) proceedings in immigration court (unless your case was administratively closed)
  • new documents showing that you have been charged with or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor

There's no point in submitting these without also taking steps to assure that you won't receive a denial, however. Consult an attorney in this situation.

In addition, USCIS will take your fingerprints and conduct a check of your criminal and FBI records (if any).

Submitting Your DACA Application and Filing Fee

Your application for DACA renewal must contain payment of the filing fees for Forms I-821D and Form I-765 as well as biometrics. The total (as of early 2024) is $85. You can submit either by mail or online.

Getting Legal Help

See an attorney if you need additional help with your DACA renewal application. The attorney can also tell you the latest on whether Congress has acted to replace DACA, and evaluate whether you have become eligible for U.S. lawful residence on some other basis.

Talk to an Immigration attorney.
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